Italian born, Alberto Alessi, has been described as the “godfather of Italian product design.” He is Managing Director and Head of Marketing Strategy, Communication and Design Management of Alessi Spa – a renowned manufacturer, businessman and business speaker.
As the eldest son of Carlo Alessi, he represents the third generation of the Alessi family and officially joined the company in 1970 straight out of law school. One of his first projects was to overhaul the company’s corporate identity. In doing so, Alberto turned the company into a household name, best known for its colourful designer kitchenware.
During his time as CEO, he has continually strived to work at the heart of international creative culture, thinking of his company as a “research lab in the Applied Arts.” His commitment to this ethos was most vividly seen in the 1983 project Tea and Coffee Piazza, an experimental post-modernist series of architectural statements designed for the table.
In 1972, Sargiani introduced Ettore Sottsass to Alberto, beginning a partnership that would span three decades and produce some of the company’s most iconic pieces, such as the 5070 condiment set, found today in thousands of bars and restaurants up and down the Italian peninsula.
Early collaborations with artists and sculptors such as Giò Pomodoro, Andrea Cascella, and most famously Salvador Dali, stemmed from his own personal manifesto of “offering the masses veritable artistic items at low prices.” This utopian view of design practice led Alessi to continue his collaboration with Sargiani and Helander with Programma 8, launched in 1975.
Influenced by the International Style architecture of the period and hailed by Alessandro Mendini in 1979 as the “the most evolved system of domestic products created on an international level,” the concept was to radically overhaul the basic components used in table and kitchen services by creating a modular series of household items. The series was re-launched to great acclaim in 2005.
Further key Alessi projects have included La Cintura di Orione with Richard Sapper and gourmet chef Alberto Gozzi, historical reproductions of Christopher Dresser’s landmark industrial design pieces from the Victorian era, Tea and Coffee Towers, a 2003 sequel to the Piazza project and Stefano Giovannoni’s collaboration with the National Palace Museum Taiwan (the OrienTales collection).
Alberto is a member of the Academic Board of the U.I.A.H., Helsinki and sits on the honorary committee of the Design Museum, London. He is a senior fellow of the Royal College of Art, London; honorary professor of the Hochschule der Bildenden Kunste, Saarbrucken; Doctor Honoris Causa of the U.I.A.H. of Helsinki; Doctor of Fine Arts at the Miami University of Oxford, Ohio; and, has an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Central England, Birmingham.
In 1998, he received the Design Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
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